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You’re not as popular as you think you are. That’s the lesson that Twitter users are figuring out as news of how many fake Twitter followers celebrities like Lady Gaga, politicians like Mitt Romney, and companies like Twitter have. Yes, even Twitter is the victim of fake Twitter followers.

The problem is far-reaching and the business of buying Twitter followers has helped the fake Twitter followers problem grow very quickly. It’s estimated that the average cost to purchase 1,000 Twitter followers is $18, and it’s easy for people to purchase fake followers online. Ads for fake followers can be found on eBay, Google Shopping, and numerous other popular websites. The more the fake followers cost, the more real they seem. In fact, fake follower dealers are continually looking for new ways to make fake Twitter profiles harder to detect.

How to Identify Fake Twitter Followers

You can identify fake Twitter followers with a bit of due diligence on your part. By knowing some of the red flags that fake Twitter profiles typically raise, you can spot fakers and block them. Following are some red flags you should be on the lookout for as you use Twitter:

1. Thousands of Followers but Very Few Tweets

It’s highly unlikely that someone who rarely publishes any content on Twitter would have a huge list of followers. Use common sense when you evaluate Twitter profiles to identify fakers. If there are a disproportionate number of followers to tweets, than the account is probably fake.

2. No Profile Picture or a Generic Picture

Few people want to interact with nameless and faceless strangers on Twitter. A big part of the Twitter experience is building relationships, so accounts that have fake profile pictures or no profile picture at all, along with few or useless tweets, are probably fake.

3. No Profile Description

Few Twitter users write nothing in their profile descriptions. Most people want to give some indication of who they are and why they’re using Twitter. If a profile description is blank, that profile could very well be fake. Be sure to review the account’s tweets, followers, and who the account follows to determine whether it’s real or fake.

4. Huge Numbers of Tweets Each Day

Does the Twitter account publish a massive number of tweets each day that no one could possibly post unless they never left their computer? If the volume of tweets seems inhuman, it probably is.

5. Nothing but Automated Tweets

Twitter streams that are filled with nothing but automated tweets could be operated by a bot. Of course, these accounts could be operated by a legitimate person who simply doesn’t understand how to use Twitter effectively, but continuous automated tweeting is definitely a red flag that a Twitter account is fake.

6. Nothing but Promotional Tweets

Some Twitter users don’t understand that other users don’t like it when all they do is publish one self-promotional tweet after another. However, many fake Twitter followers publish nothing but promotional tweets and they make a lot money from it. A bit of marketing copy followed by a link is often the only type of tweet found in these fake accounts.

7. Tweets or Direct Messages that Warn You About Rumors Spreading About You (Or Similar Warnings) with a Link

Have you gotten one of those direct messages that says something like, “Have you seen this picture of you that’s going around?” or “There is a rumor going around about you,” along with a link that you need to click to see the horrifying details? It’s spam. Don’t click the link. Instead, delete or ignore the message and block that Twitter follower.

8. Instant Response to One of Your Tweets

Has this happened to you? You publish a tweet and almost immediately after it’s live, someone starts following you and responds to your tweet. It’s highly likely that instantaneous response was automated based on a specific keyword that you used in your tweet. There are many tools that make it easy for Twitter users to find and follow people based on keywords, but it’s also a common red flag for fake Twitter accounts when it happens too quickly.

9. Following Thousands but Few Followers

If a Twitter user is following thousands of people but has a disproportionately small number of followers, than it’s safe to assume that profile is fake.

10. The Same @Tweet Sent to Multiple People

When you see a Twitter user tweet the same message (or nearly the same message) directly to numerous people again and again, that account is both spam and fake.

How Many Fake Twitter Followers Do You Have?

You can get a quick overview of how many of your Twitter followers are thought to be fake using a tool like Fake Follower Check from StatusPeople. This tool identifies how many of your Twitter followers’ accounts have been flagged as spam or are inactive. Simply connect your Twitter account to Fake Follower Check, and you can instantly learn how many of your Twitter followers are fake.

When you find a fake follower on your Twitter account, take a second to block them. Your effort will help Twitter identify and remove fake accounts and can improve the Twitter user experience for everyone.

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